But I would not let that stop me. So, I decided to revisit an old favorite stomping ground, the Dales. I could not keep the other players, eager as they were, from creating characters before I arrived that week, and by the time I got to the table, there were three elves awaiting me. An avenger, a cleric, and a fighter, all worshippers of Corellon.
Very well. They want to play elves? It's only a short trip to drag them to Cormanthor, a site rarely visited in my DMing past. Let's really do elves.
I told them that they had come from their respective homelands in hopes of attending the high holy days of Corellon. Then I ran the adventure I had prepped, the intro quest against the goblins in Loudwater. Except that Loudwater now exists in Battledale. I decided to tweak some other things, too. Goblins, I decided, are now among the ranks of the unseelie fey/dark Seldarine worshippers. Hey, go watch Labyrinth some time.
The party dispatched the goblins that attacked the alehouse and then moved outside to deal with the rest of the invasion, and finished the combat inside the shop, where two of the goblins had begun ransaking the place, looking for their totem.
After questioning the goblin acolyte, they decided to let him have the totem, deeming it his rightful possession.
They then were hired on by a caravan as protection, should there be other goblins or other beasts in the woods, and made their way to the next town, where they met up with a half-elven ranger who was familiar with the area and offered to join up with them to track down the goblins, to make sure they would not cause any more trouble.
The PCs discovered the goblins' lair, sneak into the courtyard, and quickly dispatched the two sentries there, avoiding the pit-trap, despite being unaware of it. (No more than one character stood on it at any given time.)
They proceeded to make quick work of the goblins and the zombies in the crypt, though they never found out that the ritual would have been ineffective. They didn't talk to the shaman long enough to find that out. (I increased the size of the final encounter area a bit and toned down the shaman's powers a bit to ensure that they would not be TPK'd.)
The ranger thanked them, and the PCs took their leave, heading north towards Myth Drannor.
After selling the dwarven artifacts they took from the crypt, the PCs acquired horses from a local halfling stable master and set out on the road north of Ashabenford, where they were waylaid by a group of bandits, intent on taxing elven pilgrims. Before and after the battle, they learned that the eladrin of Myth Drannor have been very reclusive of late, and reluctant to help the Dales with the problem of leftover Zhentarim and the still-lingering runoff of dark creatures that were ousted from Cormanthor when the elves returned to their home. (Ilsevele is more focused on the growing reach of Netheril at the moment, and that has allowed the old threats to begin to gather strength again.)
The party finds a place to camp for the night, and their rest goes mostly undisturbed, except for an attack by three wolves during the fighter's watch, which he deals with single-handed.
After crossing the river and entering Cormanthor, they make their way through the forest and stumble across a disturbed grave site, where they find old bones and black armor marked with spider-web designs. There are footprints leading away to the north, but they lose the trail. The PCs arrive in Myth Drannor and make it a priority to notify the guard about the grave. The guard captain agrees to look into it, sending a few coronal guards and scouts with them. With the eladrin's assistance, they discover an abandoned cave containing ritual tools and a shrine to the Spider Queen.
The cleric returns to the city, where she requests assistance to purge the cave of the taint of evil, while the avenger and fighter partake of the evening's festivities, watching a reenactment of the battle between Corellon and Gruumsh under a silvery crescent moon.
The next morning, the fighter escorts a group of priests to the cave site, where the cleric assists in performing a cleansing ritual. The avenger stays behind to compete in some tests of martial skill, where he is defeated in melee combat by a moon elf, but wins an archery competition, drawing the attention of two followers of Shevarash. As the priests and cleric complete the ritual, a large phantom arachnid appears in the middle of the cavern, and vanishes in a burst of silvery light. The avenger rejoins his companions after meeting with other followers of the Black Archer.
The rest of the day passes uneventfully as several smaller stages are prepared for a night of storytelling and performance. The party unanimously decides to watch a reenactment of the purging of the drow from Myth Drannor. As the play reaches its climax, a dark robed figure stands up at the edge of the audience and swears dark oaths against the elves. The audience begins to stir in fright when below their feet the earth stirs and several undead drow arise and begin to attack.
The PCs act quickly and decisively, destroying the zombies. The dark figure summons spectral undead to distract them as he unleashes foul energies against them, but they surround him as he jumps up on a bench and unleashes a wave of necromantic magic. Only the avenger is affected, and he soon recovers to join the party in capturing the spellcaster.